The Tango dance is seductive, sexy and full of intrigue. It creates a steamy atmosphere with deep lunges juxtaposed with lighting fast flickering foot work followed by erotic use of the eyes between partners that can embrace the dancers and audience alike.
Every tango has a story to tell and Tanguera did just that to bring the audience to the edge of their seats. Tanguera, originally created in 2002, by producer Diego Romay with choreography by Mora Godoy, has been a sensational hit musical at home in Buenos Aires and around the globe. The production is slick and professional and the dancers from Buenos Aires ooze that same aura of being the best and proud of it!
The story is simply told with a young French girl, Giselle, arriving in the Argentinian dockyards of Buenos Aires as one of the first waves of European immigrants at the start of the 20th century. She meets Lorenzo, a dockworker, who falls in love with her at first sight. Gaudencio, a crook involved in drug dealing and pimping, has other ideas for Giselle and entices her into his world of sleaze with promises of a better life. Giselle, once pure and innocent, gets sucked up into a life of prostitution and becomes a ‘tanguera’, an erotic tango dancer that seduces men with her moves. She quickly becomes the number one tanguera at Gaudencio’s night club and brothel and has the visiting men in the palm of her hands with her seductive dancing luring them into the darkest places. The dockworker, Lorenzo, has other ideas and grows up to be a brave young man. He is determined to understand the underworld of Giselle’s dark life so that he can, despite the dangers, confront her captors and woo her back with a life of true love.
Tanguera has been on a remarkable journey thrilling audiences from around the globe. Why so successful? Put simply it is great entertainment. The production values are superb: the clever use of back drops and front cloths enabling superfast changes of scenery; clever lighting design that enhances the different atmospheric moods including the red and black down lights creating the overall ambience of a night club, but also individual spaces on stage for the couples to have their tango moments and we are talking passion and lust bursting out of the beams of light; costumes that had subtle undertones with Giselle arriving with a white underskirt depicting her innocence followed by red underskirts whilst working in the brothel and finally white and black as she plots her way out to find her true love and new life; at the end of every dance scene each of the lead dancers would finish in a white spot light on the very last beat of the music creating its own sense of excitement knowing there was more to come.
The cast of twenty plus Argentinian dancers worked and danced like their lives depended on the success of the show that night. The three main characters were worthy of their principal status: Melody Celatti’s Giselle was fiery and full of ecstasy but also touching at times and filled with daring leaps and lighting fast footwork; both Dabel Zanabria’s Guadencio and Estaban Domenichini’s Lorenzo had power, precision and control in their tango that had the audience spellbound with excitement, and Giselle too, with their hypnotic dominance coming to the fore every step of the way! In production terms, perhaps the only disappointment was the introduction of the renowned singer Marianella, not because she did not sing well but rather the random nature of a handful of songs that did not add anything to the production and seemed an afterthought so one could call it a tango musical. The six-piece orchestra packed a punch playing Gerardo Gardelin’s original music and arrangements. The musician were certainly a major component to making the evening that one will remember for years to come. One word of warning. The evening had three encores which one should not miss as it had an uplifting crescendo to the evening with the dancers having a sense of ‘anything you can do I can do better’ and they certainly did that and more. Bravo to Tanguera’s production team, dancers and musicians.
Voices of the Amazon… a Grimm Tale with nothing to shout about!
Great expectations from Sister’s Grimm production team of Ella Spira and Pietra Mello-Pittman. After all, Voices of Amazon follows their first endeavor in 2014 as a production company. Their INALA was an award winning production with South African choral legends Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Voices of Amazon was something altogether different. It lacked any real imagination or excitement. With no star performers to guide the production it was clear that neither Spira or Mello-Pittman have any talent or creativity as producers. Both have, or have had, budding careers, with Spira as a composer and Mello-Pitman as a dancer.
Lighting design can make a production look great even when it is actually mediocre. It can also kill a production. The same can be said of choreography and costume design. Sadly all the creatives of Sister Grimm’s production team were out of their depth as part of a production that aired on a big stage like Sadler’s Wells.
The story line was simple and there is nothing wrong with that if all the artistic elements come together to engage and entertain an audience. The dancers and musicians did their best but it was a grimm tale with nothing to shout about!